Cluster of Stars made a successful jump to graded stakes company with a impressive 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct April 13.
The 4-year-old daughter of Greeley's Galaxy remains undefeated in five lifetime starts for owner Turtle Bird Stable and trainer Steve Asmussen.
A field of four went to the post in the Distaff, with Cluster of Stars sent off the heavy 1-9 favorite. The bay filly broke sharply under Junior Alvarado, and went straight to the front. She was tracked closely by Los Ojitos and Miss d'Oro.
Cluster of Stars continued to lead into the far turn, but left a slight opening along the rail. Jockey Rajiv Maragh and Los Ojitos took advantage of that, and slipped by the heavy favorite and had taken the lead by the time the field hit the top of the stretch.
Cluster of Stars didn't give up, though, and soon found another gear and overtook her rival, drawing off in the stretch to win easily.
Miss d'Oro got up for second, with Los Ojitos hanging on for third. Final time for the six furlongs was 1:10.14. See the full chart here.
Quotes courtesy NYRA
Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, winning trainer of Cluster of Stars (No. 4): “I told [Junior Alvarado] to be patient and not get in a hurry. I didn't know what anybody else was going to do. I didn't like it scratched down to four. You know how it changes everything. You have some obvious speed horses, and then you don't have any.”
“I thought she ran super. Very nice. We'll just enjoy the moment. I have no idea where we're going.”
Junior Alvarado, winning jockey aboard Cluster of Stars (No. 4): “She broke sharp. She was doing it nice and easy. I didn't want to be too close to the rail. I actually didn't want to start using my horse at that point just to block somebody. By the three-eighths pole, the five-sixteenths pole, I knew what I had in my hands. I wasn't worried about the other horse. I just kept my horse clear and cool. Turning for home, the other horse was trying, but that was it. When I asked my horse, she just took off right away.”
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